That would be … being a bishop.
Which Catholic job would I least want to have? Head of the Vatican Bank? President of the LCWR? Negotiator with the SSPX? Butler to His Holiness? Nope. Any of those would be easy peasey lemon squeezee, compared to the Most Thankless Job in Christendom:
Any bishop, anywhere, any day. And I say that with full disclosure of my secret ambition, egged on by my friends Michael and Brian, to be named, against all odds and for obvious reasons in petto, Titular Bishop of Puppi. (No disrespect meant to the current holder of that distinction, ex petto, the Most Rev Montfort Stima, an auxiliary of Blantyre, Malawi; the choice was purely because we get a 10-year-old boy snickering thrill out of saying “Titular Bishop of Puppi in petto.”)
Of all the no-one-expects-the-Spanish-Inquisition surprises that continue to accompany my revertigo, this is the surprise-iest, this surge of sympathy for the Church’s management corps. But really, talk about your no-win position. I’m not just talking about the usual perils of the episcopate, like the tendency of Chinese bishops to disappear. And I don’t mean the sort of generic political dismissiveness leveled against the USCCB, as in “the bishops, those socialist Obama bootlickers” or “the bishops, those tools of the right wing’s war on women and the poor.”
No, I’m talking about the way we leap at the throats of individual bishops, in public and without a second’s thought. From the left, from the right, from the pulpit, from the pews, from CNN to HHS, it’s always His Fault. And it doesn’t matter if he’s a lowly auxiliary in Malawi or an exalted cardinal in the halls of Vatican power, he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. And there’s a kneejerk swiftness, fueled by Internet speeds, about the way we rush to judgment.
You’ll want to read it all.
I may print it out and show it to a few people tomorrow, too…
UPDATE: Check out what The Anchoress has to say about the bishops, too!